At the heart of Buddhism is the concept of compassion, a practice that is undoubtedly valued throughout the world…and one that can provide lasting happiness for yourself and others. Making a commitment to practice more compassion into your life offers some truly deep spiritual and personal fulfillment AND a deeper connection to the world around you.
What is Compassion?
While compassion is defined as the ability to understand one’s own emotional state and the emotional state of others, it goes far beyond this. Not to be confused with empathy (which is actually being able to feel other’s emotions), compassion offers a completely different perception on how you see yourself and others. It moves past judgement and into a realm of sympathy and understanding.
Someone who practices compassion will:
- Be more accepting of other people and themselves
- Stop judging other people
- Let go of hate and anger
- Accept others for who they are
- Be open to the way other people feel
- Offer help in difficult situations
- Maintain a sense of heightened peace
- Feel more connection in social interactions
Not only is compassion beyond good for you to cultivate into your own life, but will spill into the lives of others…and in turn create a more loving and understanding world. Living with compassion takes very little effort, yet the results of this gentle practice are life changing.
5 Ways to Cultivate Compassion into Your Life
- Start with Self-Compassion
The first way to become more compassionate with others is to practice compassion for yourself. That inner-critic that tells you you’re not good enough, you’re too this, or you’re too that needs to be silenced. Self-compassion is all about being kind to yourself rather than engulfing yourself in self-pity or self-criticism. It allows you to better understand your emotions and live in a less negative state of mind.
Begin by being kind to yourself and practicing intentional self-care. There’s no denying that life can be hard, but we’re all doing the best we can with what we’ve got. Allow yourself to be human and feel the crazy emotions that go with it, but don’t drown yourself in your sorrow.
Realize that when you’re more compassionate toward yourself and the experiences you encounter, you will start to notice increased optimism, happiness, self-esteem, and understanding (for both yourself and others).
- Let Go of Judgment
If you’re like most people, judging yourself and others is something you do without even realizing you’re doing it. We label things and people as good or bad and actions as right or wrong. We think we’re better than others or that they’re better than us.
Judgment however, does nothing to increase anyone’s peace of mind. In fact, judging others can lead to decreased happiness and feelings of low self-esteem. Realizing that we’re all going through life and doing what we think is best might make it easier not to judge others. If you look at it, everything comes down to our own perception so who are we to say what’s right and what’s wrong?
Let go of judgment and look to others instead with a compassionate heart. That person begging for change on the street corner is really no different from you or me. Judging them for their state of being does nothing to benefit anyone. Begin to let go of judgment and you’ll begin to see that compassion for others offers a completely different state of mind.
- Become More Present with the People in Your Life
How present are you with the people that surround your life? Not just your close friends and family members, but everyone you encounter. Do you truly listen to others when they have something to say, or is your mind fixated somewhere else?
When we begin to become more present with other people we begin to feel their emotions beyond the words they speak, which can in turn lead to increased compassion and more joy. Stop looking at your phone, glancing at your watch, and thinking about the million other things you must do.
Become more present with the people around you and you’ll truly start to feel a difference in every interaction you encounter.
- Be More Kind (To Yourself and Others)
Kindness is one of the easiest ways to cultivate more compassion, and it won’t cost you a thing. When you’re kind to others, it extends far past what you can see at the moment. Kindness is something everyone could use a bit more of in their lives, and offers one of the greatest ways to feel more compassion.
Begin to radiate kindness wherever you go. It not only offers others the blessings so many need, but generates a greater spirit within yourself. Offer your thanks to others, practice radical forgiveness for yourself and others, offer love where there is hate, and give generously of yourself where you can.
Compassion is a natural extension of kindness and will fill your life with balance and a multitude of blessings.
- Invoke the Spirit of Kuan Yin
Kuan Yin is known as the goddess of compassion, and is perhaps the most admired because of this. Legend has it that Kuan Yin was reborn from the bodhisattva, Avolokitesvara who was known as the Lord of Enlightenment. When recreated as Kuan Yin, the goddess was given a thousand arms to reach out and ease the suffering of everyone around the world. Eyes were placed in the palm of each hand so she could better see the suffering of those in need.
Invoking the spirit of Kuan Yin is an excellent way to cultivate more compassion into your own life. Our Kuan Yin necklace is a great way to keep this goddess close to your heart and invoke her gentle spirit when you feel compelled to live more compassionately.
Cultivating more compassion allows you to meet everything and everyone you come across in life with a heart that is open. It allows for more self-understanding and for more understanding of the people around you. And while living with compassion won’t happen overnight, taking the steps to get there ultimately allow you to enjoy your success and accept your mistakes.
Compassion allows you to live more openly and with greater understanding, love, and acceptance. When you live with compassion, you’re directly contributing to the wellbeing of everything that crosses your path, as well as the wellbeing of the world.